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Passage to India

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Poem by Whitman, the title piece of a pamphlet (1871), was incorporated in Leaves of Grass 1876.

Ostensibly celebrating the completion of the Suez Canal and the transcontinental railroad (1869), and such other links as the Atlantic cable (1866), which would effect “the marriage of continents,” the poem asserts that it is not only the “facts of modern science,” but also the “myths and fables of eld … The deep diving bibles and legends,” which will unify the world. The welding process must be carried on “not for trade or transportation only, But in God's name, and for thy sake, O soul.” The long history of mankind, from Oriental antiquity to the present culture of the West, is now to be crowned in America, when “the Poet, worthy that name; The true Son of God shall come, singing his songs.” The new nation shall combine the physical and intellectual vigor of the West with the spirituality and mystical wisdom of the East. The voyages of the former explorers symbolize the search for God, which is to be completed by the passage of the soul to “more than India,” through the poet who will restore the divine trinity of God (the universal), Nature (the particular), and Man (the individual).

Subjects: Literature

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Walt Whitman (1819—1892) American poet